Legislature Ready to Go Back into Regular Session

What’s is the story on tolls?

Other Issues That We Can Expect This Session

Links to Live By

Retail News and Notes

  • Happy New Year from the Staff and Board of Directors of CRMA. We hope 2020 is off to a good start and that this year is full of good health and strong sales.
  • With the new year comes the beginning of the Connecticut General Assembly. Because this year is an even numbered year, the General Assembly will go back into session on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in February. So, this year that date is Feb 5th.
  • With this being the so called “short session” adjournment day this year will be the First Wednesday after the first Monday in May. So, adjournment day for the regular session is May 6th.
  • We will get into some of the big issues that we expect the legislature to address this session, but understand that CRMA will be there from opening day to adjournment day and our Legislative Committee will be meeting once again, via conference call, every 2 weeks to keep members up to date on the progress of all the bills that we are following.
  • And you can expect that we will keep you updated on the progress of all the activities of the General Assembly, with our Friday Facts.

What is the story on tolls?

  • So, before the General Assembly goes back into regular session there is one big issue that is unresolved and doesn’t seem to go away: Tolls.
  • If you recall, Governor Lamont has made introduction of tolls in CT one of his highest priorities. The problem is he can’t seem to get a majority of members of the House or Senate to agree on how that should be done.
  • During last year’s long session, the Governor and the Legislature could not come to an agreement on tolls before the Legislature adjourned in June. At that point there was an expectation that the General Assembly would reconvene during a special session to take up the issue.
  • But to date that has not happened.
  • There are several reasons why they haven’t reconvened including changing plans on what will be included in the toll plan, to strong anti-toll opposition to outright political nervousness on the part of the majority party to take a vote on the issue.
  • Over the last couple of weeks, Governor Lamont has sounded more confident that he has the support of Sen D’s who hold the majority in the Senate, but that remains to be seen. In addition, there has been this assumption that the Democratic Majority in the House had the votes to pass ANY toll plan, but that too may be a question now.
  • Remember, all members of the General Assembly – but not the Governor – are up for re-election this fall, so politically they are not sure taking a yes vote on tolls is the best thing for their re-election efforts.
  • Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans continue to hammer away at the need for tolls. They have to come up with alternative infrastructure plans that do not include tolls which has been effective in slowing the Governors toll implementation plans.
  • What does all this mean: in our humble opinion, the likelihood of a special session in the next two weeks before the start of the regular session is very low. Therefore, the only way a toll bill will pass is during the regular session, which will be a pretty big challenge given the nature of a short session.
  • So, bottom line on tolls is that it’s not dead yet but its prospects don’t look good.
  • Our friends at Hartford Courant have a great update on the latest effort to get a toll bill passed . You can go here to read that.

Other Issues That We Can Expect This Session

  • We expect that tolls will linger during the regular session if they aren’t taken up in the next couple of weeks, but outside of tolls there are other pretty big issues the General Assembly will deal with.
  • Here is quick rundown on what we expect to be some high-profile issues that CRMA will be following:
  • Budget/Taxes: While we all know that CT’s economy is not where we all want it to be, the continuing budget crisis has lessened some over the last couple of years. CT will be facing a small deficit heading into the session, but it also has a huge budget surplus in the rainy-day fund to handle it.
  • So, because of that surplus, we don’t expect any big budget battles to take place this session.
  • What we would welcome is some REDUCTION or elimination of sales taxes that have hurt consumers and made us less competitive with our surrounding States.
  • We will be looking for every opportunity to reduce or eliminate sales taxes and business taxes wherever we can.
  • Labor Issues: Because the General Assembly has been so active on so many labor issues over the last two or three sessions, they may not be so active this session. We expect some scheduling issues and ongoing conversations about tip credit and minimum wage will continue.
  • Privacy: Consumer Privacy is an important issue for all retailers, and we will continue to keep a close eye on any bills that may be introduced this session. There was a bill introduced last session that was turned into a task force which was charged with studying the issue in more detail. The task force, however, never met.
  • The General Assembly’s office of Legislative Research each year does a report outlining the number of issues that may be dealt with during the session.
  • You can go here to read that report.
  • Again, we will keep you up to date on the major issues impacting retailers as well as the high-profile issues that the General Assembly will be dealing with throughout the session.

Links to live by

  • The CT Mirror has a story about a State Senator who thinks Legislators should get paid more. You can go here to read that
  • Our friend Christine Stuart at the CT News Junkie looks at the CT budget situation.
  • The great Kevin Rennie of the Courant takes a look at the Governor’s goal to increase the population of CT’s cities over the next 25 years.

Retail News and Notes 

Consumers, especially millennials, are willing to switch to a retail store that features automated technology such as self-checkout if it improves the shopping experience, according to a Capgemini study. The study also found that automated technology will likely help retailers boost supply chain efficiencies ranging from reducing the cost of click-and-collect and curbside pickup to avoiding stockouts.Full Story: CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly online

Sustainability was a hot topic running through several sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show this week. Executives from retailers and brands including Patagonia, Lush and Williams-Sonoma talked about building on earlier sustainability efforts, and TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky explained closed-loop supply chains. Full Story: Women’s Wear Daily (subscription required)

 Although Amazon has declined to comment, there is mounting evidence that the company is planning to open a small grocer in Washington, D.C. A permit was issued Monday for Amazon to build out an 8,000-square-foot store in a mixed-use project on 14th Street NW, and the site plan indicates the brick-and-mortar building will house a grocer, an Amazon Go convenience store or possibly a combination of the two. Full Story: The Business Journals (tiered subscription model)